Analysis: Ferguson’s “Inside Job”

Charles Ferguson’s documentary film, Inside Job (2010) which won the Oscar for Best Documentary, is, as stated on the DVD case: “the first film to expose the shocking truth behind the economic crisis of 2008. The global financial meltdown, at a cost of $20 trillion, resulted in millions of people losing their homes and jobs… Inside Job traces the rise of a rogue industry and unveils the corrosive relationships which have corrupted politics, government regulation, and academia.” We could not synopsize it better, although an Associated Press editor called it: “A crime story…” No words wasted there. 

PluribusOne™ heartily recommends this documentary—as a wake-up call to action. 

After watching the film, take time to read Ferguson’s paperback book published May, 2012—same title—and watch the movie again. The hardcover edition is titled Predator Nation, perhaps a last minute attempt to avoid confusion with another book titled Inside Job, but subtitled: The Looting of America’s Savings and Loans, published in 1989. We recommend studying that “inside job” story too because the sum of the two underscores the importance of adequate management controls and compliance monitoring together with fines for patterns of violation and criminal prosecutions for willful violations. 

Rather than put a spotlight on Inside Job’s many shocking and revelatory cinematic moments, PluribusOne™’s concern is less with the history of Wall Street shenanigans during the past thirty years—which no one can change—and more with calling on citizens to take action to minimize the ongoing aftereffects and prevent the next crime wave. After the savings and loan scandals and losses that cost taxpayers more than $125 billion in the 1980s (not including the effects of the 1987 stock market crash), and the Internet Stock, or “Dot-com,” Bubble that cost investors some $5 trillion in losses in the 2000-2002 stock market crash, and then the latest $20 trillion credit derivatives and swaps debacle, only an idiot could fail to see a pattern of growing systemic corruption. 

Is anyone naïve enough at this point to think that all those executives who, with painfully few exceptions, profited so enormously from neglecting their fiduciary responsibility have suddenly seen the error of their ways? Did the bailout really benefit the masses of people who paid for those ill-gotten gains with their life-savings, their hard-earned retirement plans, and even their homes? And you can be sure that the wolves are fully expecting the sheep to line up for a fresh round of shearing in the not-too-distant future. The question is: What form will it take this time? And how might it be headed-off? 

While the seemingly authoritative experts who supplied commentary on Ferguson’s findings were reluctant to point to grossly inadequate legislation as having been the core contributor to all of the financial industry-based disasters of the past thirty years, the main roots trace directly back to the Reagan Administration’s banking deregulation initiatives, to the repeal of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act during Clinton’s Administration, and to inadequate internal controls and enforcement throughout, fueled by incompetent regulatory agency officials and corrupt public accounting firm executives. 

The single most imperative action every United States citizen can take is to demand that federal legislators reenact the legislation that gave this nation a high degree of economic stability from the 1930’s to the 1970’s, and also enact legislation to further fill the widely recognized gaps related to credit derivatives. Other actions are needed as well, but none should involve deregulation, privatization, or giveaway bailouts. Let dinosaurs die.

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7 Responses to “Analysis: Ferguson’s “Inside Job””

  1. PeaceTrainer Says:

    One of the tenets of your Noetitaoism is to not indulge in blaming. Isn’t that what this film is all about? Aren’t you participating in or endorsing that blaming?

  2. PluribusOne™ Says:

    No. We are not pointing a finger solely at the financial services industry. Nor are we pointing to the corrupt practices of any particular political party.

    The enormous public losses and bailouts trace back to errors and indiscretions of elected officials, to weak-willed regulatory bodies, to apathy, and to errors in judgment of citizens eligible to vote and otherwise participate in governmental processes.

    The greatest “enemy” of humankind is ignorance—not investment bankers. But just as we preserve wolf populations we also erect wolf-resistant fences and install other controls to protect the more domesticated animals against predators.

    Therefore, we would most like to see an overhaul of the public education system, including the creation of tuition-free public colleges that allow grade-achieving students to gain the highest levels of schooling that they desire and are capable of completing.

    Before that can happen, there needs to be a turnaround with respect to the way humans are perceived. All citizens of not only the USA but also the world need to be recognized as THE most valuable inter-supportive resource on the planet—in this solar system—not as a burdensome expense.

  3. PeaceTrainer Says:

    Your “let dinosaurs die” is harsh. We would be much worse off if the big banks were let to fail.

  4. PluribusOne™ Says:

    And yet people seem to not realize or care that dozens of small community banks are allowed to fail every year. Those failures represent rapid shrinkage of consumer choice with regard to deposits, loans, and other financial services for households and small business enterprises.

    At the 2011 World Economic Forum, former president Bill Clinton said, “Go all the way back to the Sumerian civilization and you’ll see that every successful civilization builds institutions that work, that lift people up and reward people for their greatness. Then, if you look at every one of those civilizations, all those institutions that benefited people get long in the tooth. They get creaky. The people ruling them become more interested in holding on to power than the purpose they were designed for. That’s where we are now in the public and private sector.”

    Clinton is right, but I don’t need him to tell me what I have experienced firsthand and find obvious. The heart and soul of America is at stake. Study the background, the history. Start by reading the books by Carroll Quigley—Clinton’s professor (School of Foreign Service) at Georgetown. Not coincidentally, Quigley was also an expert on secret societies and the global elites.

  5. Stark Raven Says:

    What do you think will be the next form of sheep-shearing?

  6. PluribusOne™ Says:

    To some extent, all previous looting schemes will proceed. But the next multi-trillion-dollar shearing, we predict, is likely to center on bailing out the government—federal, state, and local, as they are all intertwined—through increased taxation. Of course, all entities previously exempted from taxation would remain exempt: religious organizations and other non-profit corporations. Downsizing of government to stave off a complete collapse—the USA carries a $59 trillion total debt-load—would involve further offloading various functions and properties to churches and charitable organizations, expanding that power-base. In many cases, this would amount to privatization, in that dollars and other assets “belong” to those having authority to determine distribution.

    Not-for-profit agencies are not generally recognized by the public as always having been extensions of a partnership between government and big business, yet it is a sector of incestuous mini-monarchies beyond control by ordinary taxpayers—a sector weakly regulated and fraught with corruption historically. At present, some heads of large nonprofit agencies—friends and family of politicians, for example—earn more than anyone in Congress. Potential for multi-trillion-dollar fraud finds fertile ground in that sector, fertility greater than what we witnessed on Wall Street where the ground has become stonier.

    Although flat-taxing income, for example, has the tone of equity and fairness, it would disproportionately affect “middle class” household incomes and swell the ranks of welfare recipients. Large corporations (and top executives), some of which have not yet managed to totally escape paying income taxes, would be the primary beneficiaries, while another round of millions of households and small businesses teetering on the edge of insolvency would be demolished, with the remnants of their assets being sucked into pockets of the IRS, lending institutions, and all levels of government machinery.

    Taxation of real estate, already having an increasingly confiscatory effect every year, would mushroom devastatingly, especially if tax relief programs (like the STAR program in New York State) are curtailed. As property-related taxes plus depreciation and maintenance costs combine their effect with monthly-diminishing equity, the very concept of “ownership” becomes a fiction. Even homeowners without mortgages find that their homes are no longer an investment in more than a lifestyle. Elderly people who take reverse mortgages to pay big bills such as real estate taxes slowly transfer the last of their life savings into pockets of state and local government and mortgage banks.

    Over the past two generations, we have seen the steady erasure of the average family’s hope for development of wealth-across-generations through inheritance. Meanwhile the level of wealth being amassed by a very few families within the “one percent” segment of the population will continue to allow children and grandchildren in those families the opportunity to enjoy top-quality schooling, top-paying employment—and power on the scale of royal dynasties of old as some, who have diversified their investments globally, become the “top fraction.”

    The above scenario is avoidable, but only through immediate formation of a nonpartisan social movement analogous to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, spearheaded by wealthy renegades like the Kennedy brothers and religious radicals like Martin Luther King, supported by a rebirth of investigative journalism. Are either Obama or Romney up to the task of fixing the problem without breaking the $59 trillion debt bubble? It does not appear so, but the USA cannot wait another four years to act.

  7. PluribusOne™ Says:

    Four more years have passed and still no sign of a turnaround. Or is the election of Donald Trump to the presidency the sign? Is Trump the “wealthy renegade” on par with JFK? Bill Gates seems to think Trump has that potential.

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